2013 Africa Growth Conference

Speaker Bios


Ebenezer Padi Adjirackor | Commercial Foreign Service Officer, Embassy of Ghana

Ebenezer Padi Adjirackor was born in Ghana and currently serves as a Commercial Foreign Service Officer for the Embassy of Ghana. Based out of Washington D.C., he is responsible for commercial relations between the United States and Ghana, including trade and investment promotion and business development. Prior to this position, he served as Director, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Policy Division. He has 30 years of experience with the Ghana Civil Service, Ministry of Trade and Industry. Adjirackor holds a Bachelors degree with a major in Economics. He is married with two children.

Sebastian Edwards | Henry Ford II Chair in International Management,; Senior Associate Dean for  Global Initiatives; and Faculty Director Center for Global Management

From 1993 until April 1996, Sebastian Edwards was the Chief Economist for the Latin America and Caribbean Region of the World Bank. He is a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), a member of the advisory board of Transnational Research Corporation and co-chairman of the Inter American Seminar on Economics (IASE). He is the Past-President of the Latin American and Caribbean Economic Association (LACEA), an international professional association of economists with academic interests in Latin America and the Caribbean region. He is a member of the Scientific Advisory Council of the Kiel Institute of World Economics, Kiel-Germany. In September 2004, Professor Edwards was appointed to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's Council of Economic Advisors.  

Edwards has been a columnist for the Wall Street Journal, and is the author of more that 200 scientific articles on international economics, macroeconomics and economic development. His articles have appeared in The American Economic Review, The Journal of Monetary Economics, The Economic Journal, Oxford Economic Papers, The Journal of Development Economics, The Quarterly Journal of Economics, the Journal of Economic Perspectives and other professional journals. His work and views are frequently quoted in the media, including the New York Times, the Financial Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Economist.  

Edwards is an associate editor of The World Economy, the Journal of International Trade and Economic Development, the Journal of International Financial Markets, Institutions and Money, and Analisis Economico. For almost ten years he was the co-editor of the Journal of Development Economics.   Sebastian Edwards has been a consultant to a number of multilateral institutions, including the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank, the IMF, and the OECD. He has also been a consultant to the United States Agency for International Development, and to a number of national and international corporations. He has worked in Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Egypt, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia, Korea, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Tanzania and Venezuela. He has also consulted for a number of international financial institutions and multinational firms.   Sebastian Edwards was born in Santiago, Chile. He was educated at the Catholic University of Chile, and received an M.A. and Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago.

Jordan Garcia | Honorary Consul, Republic of Guinea; Founder and President, Alicante Group

Jordan Garcia is Founder and President of Alicante Group, a Los Angeles-based independent consulting company specializing in government and investor relations in Western and Central Africa. He currently serves as the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Guinea Conakry to California.

Garcia’s life-long interest in Africa drives his pursuit of responsible investment and development of permanent infrastructure in the region. He has extensive experience in government relations throughout Western and Central Africa. Over the past 15 years he has cultivated relationships with key government officials in a dynamic geopolitical environment. His expertise and relationships help clients identify opportunities and navigate the approval process. Prior to founding Alicante Group, Mr. Garcia served in several sales and management positions in France and the United States.

Mr. Garcia is Spanish, French and American. He received his bachelor of science in technical sales and marketing in France. Mr. Garcia is fluent in Spanish, French and English.

Bobby Hines | International Trade Specialist, Downtown Los Angeles Export Assistance Center, International Trade Administration

Bobby Hines is part of a global network of international trade professionals connecting U.S. exporters to key markets abroad. They assist SMEs enter international markets using customized services to locate contacts worldwide. In general those marketing services consist of locating market research, pinpointing export prospects and promoting U.S. Products and services. U.S. companies offer a fascinating array of products to world markets. In spite of the economic difficulties many countries are facing there continues to be a demand for products made in the U.S.A. U.S. manufactures continue to win new customers and contracts abroad as a direct result of working with the U.S. Commercial Service. The institutional knowledge at the fingertips of these offices is what makes them unique and valuable.

TS Hines joined the Department of Commerce in 1988. In addition to his current position as an International Trade Specialist, he has also worked as Trade Reference Assistant. During his tenure with the DOC he has traveled extensively, visiting the seven continents. Bobby’s industry specialization includes cosmetics & toiletries, safety & Security, food & Agriculture, and apparel and textiles. His geographic specialization includes Africa, Near East and South East Asia. He is a recipient of the U.S. Commercial Service Director General’s Excellence award for Excellence in Innovation and the William E. Morton Memorial Award for his work in increasing economic opportunities for and with historically disadvantaged group.

Prior to joining the Commerce Department Bobby was employed as a Fire and Causality Commercial Property Underwriter at Unifax Insurance Systems, a subsidiary of Unico America. A native of Hermitage, Arkansas, and Bobby attended the University of California at Los Angeles – 1980 – Psychology Major and Los Angeles City College - 1978. Bobby is a Vietnam Era Veteran of the United States Army.

Edmond J. Keller | Research Professor of Political Science, UCLA; Former Director of UCLA's Globalization Research Center-Africa and James S. Coleman African Studies Center

Edmond J. Keller is Research Professor of political science, and former Director of the UCLA Globalization Research Center-Africa and of the James S. Coleman African Studies Center at the University of California-Los Angeles. He specializes in comparative politics with an emphasis on Africa. Keller received his B.A. in Government from Louisiana State University in New Orleans, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He has taught at Indiana University, Dartmouth College, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Xavier University (New Orleans), and the University of California-Santa Barbara. Keller has been a visiting research scholar at the Institute for Development Studies (Nairobi, Kenya), the Bureau of Educational Research (Nairobi), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the Africa Institute of South Africa, and the University of California-Berkeley Institute for International Studies. Also, he has consulted widely on issues relating to African Development and public policy, and, more recently, on the process of political transitions in Africa, and on African regional security issues.

Among his professional activities, Keller served on the Council of the American Political Science Association (APSA), 2000-2002; Executive Committee of the Comparative Politics Section of the APSA, 1996-1998; and in 2007-2008 his was co-program Chair (with Jane Junn), for the APSA 2008 Annual Meeting. He has also served on the Editorial Board of the Western Political Science Association and the National Journal of Political Science; as Editor of the Journal of African Policy Studies, as treasurer for the North American Chapter of the African Journal of Political Science, and as vice president and president of the African Studies Association. Keller was the recipient of the African Studies Association Distinguished Africanist Award for 2008. Keller is the author of three monographs: Education, Manpower and Development: The Impact of Educational Policy in Kenya (1980); Revolutionary Ethiopia: From Empire to People's Republic (1988), and Identity, Citizenship and Political Conflict in Africa, Indiana University Press (2014 forthcoming).

Keller has also written more than 60 articles on African and African American politics, and has co-edited seven books: Afro-marxist Regimes: Ideology and Public Policy (with Donald Rothchild, 1987); South Africa in Southern Africa: Domestic Change and International Conflict (with Louis Picard, 1989), Africa in the New International Order: Rethinking State Sovereignty and Regional Security (with Donald Rothchild, 1996); Africa-US Relations: Strategic Encounters (with Donald Rothchild, 2006); HIV/AIDS in Africa: Challenges and Impact, co-edited with Edith Omwami and Stephen Commins (2008); Trustee for the Human Community: Ralph J. Bunche, the United Nations, and the Decolonization of Africa edited with Robert Hill (2010); and Religion, Institutions and the Transition to Democracy in Africa (2012) edited with. Ruth Iyob. Keller's main research is on issues of political transitions in Africa; cultural pluralism, identity politics and citizenship; and conflict and conflict management in Africa.

Chido Nwangwu | Founder and Publisher, USAfrica Multimedia Networks

Chido Nwangwu, moderator of the Achebe Colloquium (Governance, Security, and Peace in Africa 2012), recipient of several public policy and multimedia journalism Excellence awards, is the Founder and Publisher of the influential USAfrica multimedia networks, USAfricaonline.com (first African-owned U.S.-based professional newspaper to be published on the Internet), the Chinua Achebe project Achebebooks.com, the ultra-glossy CLASS magazine, the photos and events mega-site with the largest collection of contemporary images/events of continental Africans in America PhotoWorks.TV, The Black Business Journal, BBJonline.com, several blogs/sites/e-groups.

The flagship of American media, The New York Times of September 23, 2003, and the CNN International in July 2010 both noted that USAfrica is America's largest African-owned multimedia company; and arguably the most influential platform for African and American issues and business. The New York Times' reporter Simon Romero wrote that Chido "Nwangwu [has also] created a magazine called CLASS for affluent Africans in the United States." Dr. Chido Nwangwu was the only continental African publisher/reporter who traveled with and covered U.S. President Bill Clinton's historic visit to parts of Africa, March-April 2, 1998; and covered Clinton's visit to Nigeria in late August, 2000. Chido is writing a book on the experiences of recent African immigrants in the U.S., on Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama and Chinua Achebe.

Nwangwu appears as an analyst on the CNN, the Voice of America/WorldNet and the Black Entertainment Television (BET), as well a number of local U.S. tv and radio stations. He was the only Africa/African-American Publisher who reported from inside the joint seating of the U.S Congress during Liberia's president Dr. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf''s historic speech in March 2006. He served on Houston Mayor Lee Brown's international business advisory board (Africa) and has been honored by the Washington-D.C.based National Immigration Forum for utilizing the media to fight authoritarianism and fostering freedom of expression in parts of African continent. He has served on the board of the Houston chapter of the NAACP, and was the first continental African to be admitted to the 100 Black Men of America, here in the U.S.

Nwangwu speaks at colleges and to businesses on social media and new technology issues, especially how the unfolding the digital world and the Internet affect Africans, African-Americans and recent immigrants. He served as a panelist at the 2000 British Broadcasting Corporation/Public Radio International global technology forum in San Francisco, California. He contributes to The Mail and Guardian of South Africa, Houston Chronicle, ModernGhana, and numerous U.S.-based and Africa issues publications. He served on the editorial board of the Daily Times of Nigeria in 1989 into early 1990s, 1988-1989 assistant editor of the Platform magazine, African and The World journal. He began his professional career as a very young man in the news, sports and programs production/camera/editing departments of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA). In 2005, he established one of the most vibrant Africa community e-groups/blogs/community calendars for sharing info/, announcements of upcoming and special events, insight to significant dates, festivals, events, resolutions/communique and historic milestones involving (or relevant to) persons, organizations and groups of Nigerian descent Nigeria360, the blog for the Igbo pan-African heritage, called IgboEvents; an Anglican community blog, AnglicanAfrican, and about 10 others. They are all powered by the resources of USAfrica and USAfricaonline.com.

In recognition of his engaging and pioneering digital design work on USAfricaonline.com and other web sites, Chido was voted the #1 African-American web designer in 1997 by the Houston Association of Black Journalists. He has been profiled in the Houston Chronicle (8th highest circulated newspaper in the U.S.), the Orlando Sentinel, Mail and Guardian of South Africa, and a number of other publications. 
He is the convener of the annual inter-denominational USAfrica Prayer Breakfast, which holds at 9am prompt on the last Saturday of every January, of every year, since 1999. He serves on the advisory board of several community building and international organizations including EVA (Education as Vaccine against AIDS-based in Nigeria and the U.S). He is an active new technologies analyst, television and multimedia executive, cross-cultural business consultant and an artist.

Ngozi Odita | Founder, Society HAE

Ngozi Odita is founder of Society HAE (SHAE) a digital media and production company that promotes emerging art and culture from a global perspective. Odita serves as SHAE's Creative Director and Executive Producer. In the role of Creative Director she leads a small but awesome group of content creators. As a collective Odita and her team produce video shorts, photo essays, articles and other digital content that focuses on art, new ideas, cultural events, style and music. As Executive Producer, Odita works with artists and arts organizations to produce public programming that includes art exhibitions, film screenings, concerts & artist talks.

Odita is also the founder of AFRIKA21, a media and production outfit that takes a multidisciplinary approach to promoting a new vision of Africa in the 21st Century. AFRIKA21 produces online content, multimedia events and public programming with the expressed purpose of reframing the conversation around Africa, creating awareness of the opportunities that exist on the continent and encouraging collaboration. As a consulting agency and production house, programming includes Social Media Week Lagos, AFRIKA21 Radio, an on-going panels series at the annual South By SouthWest Conference and The AFRIKA21 Mixtape Project. AFRIKA21 works with institutions, organizations and brands looking to engage Africans on the continent and in the diaspora.

Darrell Smith | Vice President Marketing, The Africa Channel

Mr. Smith is a marketing and sales innovator who has a heart for Africa. He believes that America and the world need to realize Africa as the biggest opportunity on earth for humanity and business. He joined The Africa Channel executive team in July of 2005. He is responsible for developing and managing the successful implementation of The Africa Channel's marketing strategy throughout United States and Internationally.  Under his leadership The Africa Channel has achieved distribution most major US cities and can be seen by more than 15 million people. Darrell is responsible for Affiliate marketing, brand management, government relations and community marketing efforts. The scope of his duties includes national and local governments, community organizations, churches, and corporate partners.

During the previous four years he served as Executive Director of Save Africa's Children / Pan African Children's Fund where he was responsible for overseeing, fundraising, operations and management of the NGO. The organization supports several hundred orphan care projects on the continent of Africa. Smith began his professional career with Procter & Gamble in sales and marketing and later joined Helene Curtis Inc as VP of Western Region Sales. In 1988 he founded SMITH & ASSOCIATES, a management consulting firm where for 13 years he managed two offices and as many as 14 consultants  before joining the Save Africa's Children / Pan African Children's Fund in 2001. Over the years he has traveled to more than 15 African countries where he visited with various Presidents, Prime Ministers, and Ministers of Government; but more importantly he has met with thousands of children on the continent of Africa who had been left alone without hope.

Smith has been a guest speaker and lecturer at more than a dozen Colleges and Universities throughout the United States and Africa. He serves on several boards in the private and public sector. Some of his current board memberships include; Sister-Cities International - Educating Young Minds Board of Directors President - and membership in the following industry organizations NAMIC, CCTA, and CTAM where he serves on several committees. Additionally he serves as Vice President of the board trustees for QVIUS, Quantum-Veritas University Systems, Board Member of Glenair Sales Group of Southern California, board member of Claremont Mckenna College Alumni Association, former President of Claremont McKenna College Alumni Association, former Claremont McKenna College Trustee, board member of African Focus Inc., and former Trustee Board Member for West Angeles Church of God In Christ. Currently he is an Executive member of West Angeles Church Deacon Board. Smith has served as a Deacon since 1993. He is a member of the Deacon Executive Board - he previously served as the Chairman of the Men's fellowship Breakfast from 1998 to 2006. He is currently the Chairman of the West Angeles Golf Committee and - and Committee co-Chair of the West Angeles Men's Prostate Screening Clinic. Deacon Smith is a former Discipleship instructor under Elder Williams - he is a 22 year member of the Men's Choir and a former member of the Praise Corral Choir,  1992 to 1999. While there are other ministries that Mr. Smith has been involved in - one of his most blessed experiences was his five years of service as the Founding Executive Director of Save Africa Children.

Smith is a graduate of Claremont McKenna College with degrees in Business Management and Psychology. He has several executive educational certificates. He is married to Darlene (40 years and 5 months) and they have three sons and five wonderful grandchildren.

Victor Tabbush| Professor Emeritus, UCLA Anderson

Victor Tabbush, PhD, is Professor Emeritus at UCLA Anderson School of Management. His doctorate is in Economics from UCLA. He has been director of the Office of Executive Education Programs and has served as Senior Associate Dean and Director of the School's Fully Employed MBA and the Executive MBA programs. He specializes in healthcare economics and in healthcare leadership and management capacity building. He is the program director and founder of the UCLA Management Development Institute that builds management and leadership capacity of health systems in sub Saharan Africa and of the Johnson & Johnson Health Care Executive program that serves U.S. community clinics and AIDs service organizations. He has been a core faculty member in both the Blue Shield Foundation Clinic Leadership Institute Program and the California Health Care Foundation Leadership Program since the inception of both programs.

He has won Outstanding Teaching Awards in all three of UCLA’s MBA programs -- in the Full-Time MBA Program (2000), the UCLA Executive MBA program (1998), and the Fully-Employed MBA program (1996).

Tabbush continues an active research agenda and is a frequently published author. He has written articles for the Journal of Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology and for the Archives of Internal Medicine on the subject of cost containment in medicine. Most recently, he has contributed a chapter in a volume titled, The Business of Medicine (Aspen). Professor Tabbush has a full history of public service including chairing the Official Salaries Authority of the City of Los Angeles, as Commissioner for the California Worker's Compensation Insurance Commission, and as a Commissioner for the Los Angeles City Civil Service Commission.

He recently has been conducting a formative evaluation of the need for management capacity building in emergency obstetric care in East Africa to address the problem of maternal mortality. In a new and separate initiative he is consultant to the Scan Foundation in pursuit of innovative solutions to the healthcare needs of California seniors.

Vanessa Wruble | Co-Founder and Co-President, Okayafrica

Vanessa Wruble is the co-founder and co-president of Okayafrica, a website and lifestyle company started by the legendary hip-hop band The Roots, which showcases new African and African-inspired music, art, and culture. Okayafrica represents Africa's New Wave; with more than half the population in many African nations under 25, the bright continent is currently undergoing an explosion of vibrant new music, fashion, art and political expression. Okayafrica is the multi-faceted hub capturing the spirit of this boom in youth culture, focusing on emerging and progressive artists, blending traditional aesthetics with a futurist lifestyle.

Wruble has previously worked with the United Nations, Lonely Planet, Current TV, and has been a freelance writer, a TV correspondent/producer, an interactive artist, and a world traveler. She holds two Master’s Degrees (Psychology, Interactive Media), and has lived or traveled extensively in Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and São Tomé and Príncipe.

2013 Africa Growth Conference